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Silybum marianum

Milk-thistle is a strikingly beautiful member of its family - with its sharply serrated, white veined leaves they cannot be overlooked. The name 'Milk-thistle' refers to a legend according to which 3 drops of holy milk from the Virgin's breast is said to have dropped on to the leaf, forever marking it as an herb of our Lady (formerly known as the Great Goddess). Pliny, who wrote about the history of the natural world in the first century, already mentioned Milk-thistle as a wholesome food. In rural areas of Mediterranean countries thistles are still commonly eaten as vegetables. The most eminent member of the thistle family, the artichoke, has even conquered the plates and palates of the most discerning gourmands around the world. The Milk-thistle lacks the large globular flower bud of its cousin, but is just as edible and perhaps even more wholesome. What we particularly appreciate about this herb are not its petals but its seeds. Milk-thistle has drifted in an out of medical awareness over the course of the centuries, at times being very popular, then being half forgotten only to return to popularity once more some decades later on. It is lucky that this wonderful healing herb has never been completely forgotten, for its liver protective powers are truly amazing. It is the only known agent capable of protecting the liver against the deadly mycotoxin of the Death Cap.

Today, it is mostly the seed of the Milk-thistle that is used medicinally. They are strongly liver protective and can be use for all kinds of chronic affliction of the liver, gallbladder and spleen. Numerous scientific studies have shown that Milk thistle seeds even have the power to reverse liver damage and are one of the few effective agents for treating hepatitis C and jaundice. They are, in fact, the only known substance that can regenerate damaged liver tissue. The seeds protect against the toxic effects of chronic alcohol poisoning as well as a range of other chemical environmental toxins that may be encountered in the workplace. The seeds can be given for acute as well as for chronic conditions and may be a great support for the liver when coping with the chemical barrage of chemotherapy. Milk-thistle seed has shown anti-tumour activity and is a highly effective against the damaging work of free radicals. In the past they were also given to help ease the pain of gallstone colic and to break down kidney stones. Milk-thistle may also stimulate the secretion of milk in lactating mothers. Milk thistle is also indicated for certain types of depression that are due to malfunctioning of the liver or chemical imbalance.

Milk-thistle can be used for protection and to dispel the negative daemons of gloom and doom. It attracts good spirits and helps to fend off all evil influences. The name suggests that prior to becoming associated with the Virgin Mary this herb belonged to the Great Goddess.

Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children, or if you are unwell, or taking any medication. If in doubt, please ask a medical herbalist or healthcare practitioner.